How Can We Deal With Disappointment?

Disappointment is a part of life, but that does not make it easy!
Disappointment is a part of life, but that does not make it easy! | Source

How often do you experience disappointment?

See results without voting

Disappointment happens

We arrive at an appointment, only to find out that it has already come and gone. We go to visit a relative, and they greet us with a cold shoulder. We wait for someone to call, and it doesn't happen. In these, and many other circumstances, the let down we feel is a keen sense of disappointment.

Disappointment hurts. We put ourselves out, trusting in others, depending on them to provide services or love to us, and they let us down. Not just once, but again and again. Disappointment comes when we expect things to happen and they don't. We feel that others have turned their back on us, or that they just don't care.

The pain of disappointment comes from the thoughts that automatically enter our minds. We tear ourselves or others down for perceived weakness and imperfection. We think that we know why something happened or someone acted a certain way, and make decisions based on the faulty information. The table below shows examples of situations that may lead to disappointment, and the negative self-talk that could be manifest.

Circumstance
Negative Self-Talk
Missed appointment
I am such an idiot
No reminder phone call
I'm not important
No gift given
I don't have any friends
Misunderstanding
I should have known
Hurtful words
I did something wrong
Unmet needs
I am not good enough
When we feel disappointed, we may lash out at others in an effort to feel better.
When we feel disappointed, we may lash out at others in an effort to feel better. | Source

Disappointment leads to other negative emotions

When we experience disappointment, our negative thought patterns leave us with strong negative emotions that take us on a downward spiral. In an effort to save ourselves, we often lash out at the person or entity that was the "cause" of the disappointment.

We may be angry at the secretary behind the appointment desk for not letting us know that the appointment was changed, or we may accuse the organization of conspiring against us. We may assume that our friend doesn't like us anymore, or that a loved one is cheating on us.

No matter the source of our disappointment, lashing out at others in an effort to make ourselves feel better only exacerbates the problem. We may say and do things that are embarrassing, humiliating, and even downright cruel. Trust is lost, relationships damaged, and friendships ended prematurely.

Negative self-talk has only one result, and that is negative emotion. The chart below shows how disappointment leads to secondary emotions. The paragraphs that follow teach us how to refute these thoughts and bring back positive feelings of self-worth.

Negative Self-Talk
Secondary Emotion
I am such an idiot
Anger
I'm not important
Discouragement
I don't have any friends
Loneliness
I should have known
Depression
I did something wrong
Guilt
I am not good enough
Despair

Recognize the distorted thought patterns

In order to assuage the pain associated with disappointment, it is first necessary to recognize the distorted thought patterns that come to our minds automatically. See the website link in blue for an in depth discussion of distorted thinking patterns.

The example circumstances and thoughts listed above include the following:

  • "I am such an idiot"

Exaggeration - focusing on a single negative detail taken out of context

  • "I'm not important"

Jumping to Conclusions - extending negative feelings by reading more into it

  • "I don't have any friends"

Black and White Thinking - everything is extreme, either totally good or totally bad

  • "I should have known"

Power and Control - the world revolves around us and we affect everyone and everything

  • "I did something wrong"

Making Assumptions - making decisions based on what we perceive others are thinking

  • "I am not good enough"

Comparison - measuring individual weaknesses by other's strengths

Once we refute the negative thoughts, surprisingly, the pain is gone.
Once we refute the negative thoughts, surprisingly, the pain is gone. | Source

Refute the distorted thoughts

Once we recognize that our thought patterns are distorted, and that they lead us to additional negative emotions, we are in a position to do something about them. We can turn them around, make them positive, and experience peace of mind and calm assurance in our feelings of self worth. Below is an example of how this is done:

Example 1

Circumstance: missed appointment

Distorted Thought: "I am such an idiot"

Type of distortion: Exaggeration - focusing on a single negative detail taken out of context

Secondary negative emotion: Anger

Refuting positive thought: "I'm grateful that I was able to reschedule the appointment. I'll write it in my calendar and set a reminder notice on my cell phone."

Although the disappointment is still experienced, it is not allowed to linger. It is replaced with gratitude for the option given to reschedule. Feelings of dignity and self-worth are left intact, and we are able to go forward.

Example 2

Circumstance: hurtful words

Distorted thought: "I did something wrong"

Type of distortion: Making Assumptions - making decisions based on what we perceive others are thinking

Secondary negative emotion: Guilt

Refuting positive thought: "She/he must be having a tough day. I'll ask and see."

It is easy to internalize our feelings when we are disappointed, assuming that we have done something to deserve the way other people are treating us. In reality, we don't know why they are doing what they are and the only way to find out is to ask. When we express words of concern for other's well-being, then they are more likely to treat us with respect. Look at the following table to see other examples of positive self-talk that ward off disappointment.

Circumstance
Positive Self-Talk
Missed appointment
Oops! I'll keep better records next time!
No reminder phone call
They must have been busy, usually they call
No gift given
They didn't remember my birthday, next time I'll remind them
Misunderstanding
That doesn't sound right, I'll ask to see what is happening
Unmet needs
I don't have to wait for others to meet my needs, I can do that myself

Positive self-talk leads to positive emotions

When we feel disappointment, we do not have to keep the negative self-talk that comes into our minds. We can turn our thoughts around, look for the good, and come away with a better attitude. Positive self-talk begins with belief in ourselves and others. If we believe that humanity is basically good, then we acknowledge that others are doing their best.

In order to refute distorted thinking patterns, we need a reservoir of positive thoughts that we can draw from. The link in the blue teaches how to find positive statements and actions in others and the world around us that help to build our feelings of self-worth. These are called "affirmations." They affirm our feelings of importance and worth, therefore, they build us up.

When we have our reservoir of positive emotions filled, we don't see negative happenings as affronts to our dignity and self respect, rather, they are simply annoyances that get in the way temporarily. We wash them off like dirt that happens to get on our hands or feet when we are going about our daily lives. They don't scar us or maim our ability to function.

Taking the time to analyze our thought patterns, we can see their fallacy and exchange them for more productive ones.
Taking the time to analyze our thought patterns, we can see their fallacy and exchange them for more productive ones. | Source

Words feed our souls. The soul that is well nourished exudes confidence and strength. The eyes are bright, and the smile is readily present. Just like an athlete poised for action, when the whistle blows, the body springs forward, steadily making progress toward the goal. The soul that is ready for action knows that there will be difficult moments, but these do not overpower, rather, they are deflected as if by an invisible shield.

Enjoy the feelings of peace and calm

As we use our cognitive ability to recognize and refute the distorted thinking patterns that often come automatically, we fill our lives with good and uplifting words and actions that shield us when difficult things happen. Then, we enjoy feelings of peace and calm.

You can deal with disappointment, for your emotional health!

© 2013 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved.

More by this Author


Comments 30 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Such important information and suggestions, Denise. Acceptance is the key for me. I am not the director of life; I am just an actor like everyone else. I have no control over the actions of others, and since they are human they will sometimes disappoint....just as I disappoint others. I need to let go and move on. :)


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

There are words to live by. We are often disappointed when someone's behavior doesn't match our expectations. I think the older we get, the more we learn to expect less.


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 2 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

This is such a well-researched and thought out hub. I'm sure this article will help so many people. The examples you gave are great, and better yet that you offered suggestions on combating the negative thoughts with positive words. Good job.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

A very helpful article, Denise, and you answered the questions I sometimes ask. Disappointments seem to come in batches, but perhaps we bring them on by negative self-talk. Thank you for your very wise explanations and counsel. Voted Up!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are right, billy, we do not orchestrate our own lives, rather, we respond to that which happens around us. Letting go and moving on is crucial to emotional health. As we change our negative self-talk to positive, we can do so, and celebrate in the process. Thanks for reading and commenting!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is an important observation, ologsinquito. The older we get, the more we realize that life is too short to live in unhappiness and misery. We realize that some things really don't matter in the long run. I appreciate your comments.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks for the feedback, Careermommy. We all have to deal with disappointment in life, and knowing how can make a big difference in how we feel toward ourselves and others.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is an interesting observation, MsDora. It seems to work the same way in my life. I'm glad that this information was helpful for you. I appreciate your words of encouragement.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi denise, this made perfect sense and from now on I will definitely try the positive rule. I am quick to judge, and moan, and then go down the depressive road, I would never have thought of turning it around, so this is great! voted up! nell


Emunah 2 years ago

What a great Hub Denise! Very insightful! Having the understanding not to take things so personally is key. Great Hub!


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 2 years ago from the South

denise, great hub with useful suggestions on how to turn disappointments around. However, I think when something first happens, letting a few swear words out doesn't hurt...haha! Then get over it by using your tips.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

This is a great hub and very well done!

It is normal and quite natural to encounter disappointments in life, because most of the times, things do not happen according to our wishes. When young, these disappointments do affect us adversely. I think, as we age we learn to deal and accept things as they are.

You have given some very practical suggestions in this hub.

Very useful and helpful, voted up and shared!


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I had many disappointments when I first moved to Croatia and tired my best to move on from that experience with ease. You mentioned helpful ways to overcome disappointment.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is usually our natural reaction, Nell, to go down the negative road. Like Jim Roan says, the negative is automatic, we don't have to plant weeds, they grow by themselves! It takes effort to turn things around and make something better of them. Take care, and thanks for reading and commenting!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

I'm glad you stopped by Emunah. Understanding is definitely the key when it comes to not taking things so personal. Oftentimes, that is the first place we go when difficulties happen, blaming ourselves, and accusing ourselves of not measuring up. Take care and have a great day!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Some people swear by it, catgypsy, that swearing helps them feel better! Personally, I find that my automatic reactions tend to go with the self-attacks. As a recovering perfectionist, I have found that if I stop and look for the good in the situation, I am able to turn things around and save my feelings of self-worth. Thanks for reading and commenting!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, ChitrangadaSharan. We all have disappointments, that is for sure! I have found that the older I get, the better I am at dealing with them. I've decided that the rest of my life is too short to spend it feeling miserable. I'm glad that you found the information helpful and thanks for sharing it with others!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is a tough situation to be in DDE, moving from one country to another. Cultural changes are a sure fire way to experience disappointment! I wish you the best in your new life. Thanks for stopping by.


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 2 years ago from Jamaica

Thanks for Denise. We can recover from our disappointments. I like your discussion on how we can replace our negative self-talk with more positive ones when we face disappointments.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Yes, Purpose Embraced, we can recover! That is the beauty of the human condition, it can change! What a marvelous realization! Life can be beautiful when we choose to replace our negative self-talk with things that build and strengthen us. Thanks for reading and commenting.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa

Excellent hub about disappointments and how to deal with it!

I remember the pain caused by disappointments when I was a child and a young adult. Oh, devastating pain, damaging my entire self-esteem right into the core of my soul.

Fortunately, eventually we learn how to prevent disappointments and when they occur, how to not let it hurt and damage us.

Sh.t happens and most people are rude, is fait accompli and there is nothing we can do about it.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

Wise words, Denise. I used to spend too much time trying to get over the disappointments in life. Now, I realize that those things I cannot control must be released so that I can move forward.


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

I like the way you parallel circumstances with positive solutions. Bravo Denise!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

You are right, Martie, as we grow to adulthood, we are able to differentiate between what is important and what is not. Unfortunately, many of us simply hide our disappointment, instead of dealing with these difficult feelings, we end up taking them out on our loved ones. Yes, people are rude, and stuff happens that we can't do anything about. In order to not let these things hurt or damage us, we have to make sure that our self-talk is positive rather than negative. Thanks for reading and commenting!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

We are both in the same boat, teaches! I, too, spent a great deal of time in my life trying to get over things. Now, I've developed strategies to help me deal with them, and like you I am able to release and move forward. Thanks for the compliment!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

Thanks, midget! There are so many examples in life that could be used, I'm glad that you found these helpful. I appreciate you stopping by. Have a great day!


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Such a positive hub on how to deal with disappointments. Your examples are great, especially how you show us how to nip negative thoughts in the bud. It really depends on how you look at things doesn't it? Great hub Denise, shared and voted up, etc.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

I appreciate your comments, MPG Narratives. If we can catch those negative thoughts at their source, and recognize where they are coming from, we are empowered to turn them around and keep disappointment from becoming a major issue. Thanks for reading and commenting!


chinmayXdas profile image

chinmayXdas 2 years ago from Mumbai, India

I feel confidence is the key to over disappointment at any level.If a person is focused on his job or the task at hand, he'll always stay a step ahead of being disappointed.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota Author

That is a good point, chinmayXdas. Confidence comes from feelings of self-worth. Disappointment tends to erode these feelings. If we are confident, we are able to recognize when something is dragging us down, and can deal with it in an efficient manner. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    denise.w.anderson profile image

    Denise W Anderson (denise.w.anderson)519 Followers
    130 Articles

    An Education Specialist, Denise teaches the principles of Emotional Health for the establishment and maintenance of high quality families.



    Click to Rate This Article
    working